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An Examination of Educational Equity: The Impact of Accountability and School Finance Reform Policies Open Access

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This dissertation examines three unique, but related, research questions as three separate studies. In the first study, I examine the impact of accountability implementation on vertical equity of inputs. I compare changes in vertical equity at the time of NCLB implementation in states that had not previously implemented accountability policies—the treatment group—to states that had previously implemented NCLB-like policies—the control group. I find that the implementation of accountability policies did not improve vertical equity by distributing more resources to high poverty districts and potentially had a negative impact on vertical equity as low poverty districts potentially increased revenue and spending more than high poverty districts as a result of accountability implementation.In the second study, I examine the impact of an accountability policy change that identifies the bottom 5% of schools for corrective action. These schools, known as priority schools, must show increased performance within three years or face the threat of closure. I show that priority schools near the cutoff for determining priority status did not improve relative to those not receiving such designation, and in fact they performed increasingly worse in the three years subsequent to priority designation.In the third and final study, I investigate the impact of court-ordered education finance reform in New York State on equity of educational inputs. I find that equity of inputs in New York did not improve relative to states that did not undergo reform of their system of education funding. This indicates little to no impact of court-ordered education finance reform in New York. I also show that had the finance reform been implemented as intended, there would have been substantial improvements to both vertical and horizontal equity. Therefore, the lack of results seen in New York stems from a lack of follow through rather than a poorly designed plan for fixing equity of inputs.

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